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I gave UP!

Friday, 7 August, 2020 - 3:32 am

By the Grace of G-d

Dear Friend,

It finally got to me.

I mean the situation with the virus.

I was feeling ‘down’ earlier this week.

And I wasn’t sure why. 

Why now? 

Six months into the plague and now I feel a bit ‘down’?

For no apparent reason.

Thank G-d myself, my loved ones, my community and most people I know, are safe and healthy (virus-wise). 

Intellectually I couldn’t see any reason to be low energy.

But I did feel emotionally weakened.


Was it the craziness of it all finally affecting me?

Perhaps being in the month of August and not hosting two thousand guests for Shabbat dinners at our currently empty Chabad Houses?

It did feel eerie to in the ‘high season’ of the tourism cycle and have a seat available at JCafe without having to wait for several groups of people to vacate their place.

Or maybe the onslaught of information was demoralizing. 

Perusing the headlines every day to see if there was a miracle cure yet and in the meantime learning how many deaths and sicknesses were taking place at every spot on the globe.

Could it be that not knowing when the kid’s respective schools would open was causing me angst?

Or perhaps it was from consternation about how to proceed regarding the communal High Holiday celebrations. In person? Outside? Inside? Reduced duration? Food? No food? (will be in touch soon regarding High Holidays please G-d).

It could be that it was stress from listening to the multitude of opinions ‘out there’ from all kinds of experts. From trying to synthesize the voices advising caution with those suggesting pragmatism, coupled with the awareness of the impossible-to-please-all reality. 

And the list of things that could cause stress goes on and on.

Admittedly, living in a world fixated on an invisible enemy that has spread from one person to eighteen MILLION people in about nine months is bound to be taxing.

Till now, I thought I was handling it ok. Thank G-d I felt fine.

But… sometime earlier this week it just got to me.

It seemed overwhelming.

And unpredictable.

Out of my control.

It got so bad that I blurted out some words that I didn’t plan to say.

Actually, I didn’t believe my own ears when I said those words. 

I heard myself say 


Surprisingly, the words didn’t seem so bad once I said them. It seemed relieving in some ironic way. Therapeutic even. 

I said the words again.


And again. 

And then, as I listened to myself say those words, I heard something I had never noticed before.

The word UP. Where does that term come from in the colloquialism ‘I give UP’?

I grabbed onto the ray of light inherent in the word UP.

I walked into my office with the ‘I give up’ idiom still on my lips. I told Micha our Israeli financial controller, ‘I give up’. He looked at me in shock. He said, ‘Rabbi, people are relying on you to keep your mood resilient and strong. How can you give up?’

But he didn’t ask me in English. He asked me in Hebrew.

‘Harav, eich atah meirim yadayim’ which literally translates as ‘Rabbi, how are you raising your hands’? 

‘Raising hands’ is a Hebrew term for ‘giving up’.

A further flash of light went off in my brain. 

Even more uplifting.

It all started coming together.

Giving UP is indeed the BEST way to go!

Raising hands reminded me of the battle of the Jewish people against the Amalekites described in the portion of Beshalach just after the Jews were redeemed from Egypt (Exodus, 17:11 see Rashi’s commentary)

Joshua did as Moses had told him, to fight against Amalek, while Moses, Aaron, and their nephew Hur went up to the top of the hill and stood in prayer… 

Whenever Moses raised his hand and the people were inspired to submit themselves to God, God came to their aid and Israel prevailed. But whenever he lowered his hand, and they were not inspired this way, Amalek prevailed.

‘Raising your hands’ in the context of praying to G-d is not a sign of defeat. It is not capitulation to your enemy. Rather it is a submission to the Source of all strength thus availing yourself of the greatest strength possible. 

Raising your hands means being mindful that you are truly in G-d’s hands. 

Giving UP in its deepest meaning should not be confused with forfeiting and abandoning one’s drive and zest for life. 

Giving UP can be very positive. If it is used in the context of submitting to the Almighty!!! The ultimate ‘UP’.

Did I feel like giving up? Yes. I did. 

My feelings of not being in any sort of control of the situation caused me a decrease in energy.

Providentially, in my daily study of the correspondence of the Rebbe I happened upon a letter written to this very circumstance. A woman who was feeling a bit ‘down’ because of her diminishing achievements. The Rebbe advised her that it is ‘normal’ to have ‘ups and downs’ and she must make sure to discuss it with a peer as it will help dispel the matter. Definitely she should not follow the negative tendency to think that she is ill and doomed to failure. It is probably but a temporary setback and then she will resume her usual unflagging success please G-d.

After speaking to some peers, I discovered it was very normal to feel under pressure during our current crisis.

(A word of caution and advice. A peer should be someone who would be able to notice if the situation was acute and professional help was required. I am talking about mild and reasonable cases of low energy that do not require professional intervention. If in doubt, please make sure to reach out for professional help).

And then, thank G-d, a very positive healing and rebuilding process began. 

I was uplifted.

I realized that I could use this humbling moment to truly give UP, to submit to G-d and be carried on His wings. I didn’t need to be in any sort of control because He has never left the cockpit. Its G-d’s plane and we are all passengers. The Almighty is in full control.

No. Not to be fatalistic and passive waiting for G-d to do everything for me. I need to put forth my best effort. But I don’t need to be in control, actually I can not be in control of the results even if I wanted to.

My role as main actor in my individual tailor-written ‘movie’  of life is to ask G-d ‘what is it you would like me to do’ and do it!

G-d’s blessing can be compared to ‘blessed rains’. He sends the rains. To benefit from the blessings of rain, one needs to plough, plant and reap. G-d wants our input as well. It is for this reason that He put us here on earth. To partner with Him.

(The doing part is critical. In the previously quoted verses, ‘Raising your hands’ can also be understood allegorically as concentrating on DEEDS and ACTIONS. Even when you don’t feel like doing a good deed, simply DO it).

Joy enveloped me as this concept sunk into my awareness. 

It was exhilarating to feel so not-in-control. What a relief to realize Who’s hands I am in!

And G-d has helped me in my quest to be joyous by giving me external reasons to be happy. Good news started to come my way. Things I hadn’t expected. Long term predicaments that showed signs of moving along in the right way. 

It was incredible. Once I did my part, G-d shone His holy countenance on to me and unanticipated blessings started to materialize.

Most of all, I have been blessed to feel fully ensconced in G-d’s loving care. May He help me to reciprocate that love by doing what He expects of me.

Join me. 

Try it out.

Give UP

Place yourself in the caring embrace of the Almighty.

(For some textual study regarding faith and trust in G-d click here for a newly launched website on the topic).

May you and your loved ones be blessed with EVERYTHING GOOD!!!!!

Shabbat Shalom

Rabbi Yosef Kantor

PS if you are in need of speaking to someone else about what you are going through, please reach out to me via my direct email [email protected] or direct WhatsApp +6681 837 7618 and I will try to help please G-d.





I said the words.


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